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HELP - Veganism & The Pill (Medical Issues)

Problems with Long Periods & Anemia

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Jordana Jordana VIC Posts: 37
1 13 Oct 2013
(Heads up this contains menstrual talk for those uncomfortable with that)

I went on the Pill for medical reasons. My period was lasting 4-5 weeks with a week rest in between. My iron levels fell and I was anemic. My doctor prescribed Levlen ED to help control my period and it worked really well. I haven't had any issues with my iron or anything else.

However since going vegan, I found out that the sugar pills (the ones that give you your period) contained lactose. This is with all Pills. This made me very uncomfortable and I stopped taking it. Even if I just skipped over the sugar pills and didn't take them, I'd still have to pay for them at the counter. And I don't want my money going towards that and encouraging it.

Since leaving the Pill though and getting my period, it has been going non-stop. It's been over 2 weeks and shows no signs of slowing. If anything it's gotten heavier. I've been feeling really tired again, like I did when I was anemic. I can't go a full day without needing a couple hours nap in the middle of the day and I struggle to get up before 10am. I've been trying to eat lots of iron + vitamin C rich foods but it doesn't seem to be enough.

I feel really strongly about animal rights and veganism, so I don't really want to go back to the Pill. I don't know what other options there are out there? Will iron vitamins be enough to beat the fact I'm bleeding for over a month at a time?

What would you do? Or recommend? Any strong vegan iron vitamins you know of available in Queensland or Victoria?

I'm nervous about going to my doctor about because she didn't seem impressed when I told her that I was vegan and didn't want to be on the Pill anymore. I feel like she'd be really rude/cold about it and be a bit "I told you so. What did you expect".

BFV BFV SA Posts: 138
2 13 Oct 2013
Hey Jordana,
Firstly I'll just say, when it comes to your health, you need to put yourself first. If the pill ends up being necessary, don't stress too much. You can just skip the sugar pills for the week (they're just to help you keep a routine anyway, they don't do anything.)
All medication is tested on animals and often contains animal ingredients, so many vegans have this dilemma with any prescription drugs they need to take. Ultimately, you need to be healthy to be a good activist. Veganism is about doing the best you can, not being perfect.

As for your particular situation:
I'm not sure if this will be helpful to you as it's a different problem, but I was taking the pill for years to control a hormonal imbalance and irregular periods caused by PCOS.
I stopped taking it several months ago for both health & ethical reasons, and tested the waters with no treatment for that time. Some symptoms have returned, so I'm now looking into natural alternatives. A nutritionist recommended maca root, which comes in powder form or capsules. I will try that and explore some other herbal remedies if needed. I probably won't go back to taking the pill because my symptoms are relatively mind, but in your case, I would definitely consider it if you can't find an alternative.

In terms of iron, there is a supplement called Organic Iron Boost by Star Formulations that I've seen in some vegan stores. You can also buy it online from the Uproar Vegan Store or Vegan Online.

Good luck, I hope you find a solution you're comfortable with. happy

noddysmiley noddysmiley SA Posts: 75
3 13 Oct 2013
You could always ask your doctor whether implants such as the implanon (it goes in your arm) or the mirena (it goes in you uterus) could help. They may or may not be helpful for your problem, but it's an alternative.

The British Aussie The British Aussie SA Posts: 212
4 14 Oct 2013
Try the mini-pill, they don't come with the sugar pills.

Casper.s2 Casper.s2 SA Posts: 1640
5 16 Oct 2013

BFV BFV SA Posts: 138
6 17 Oct 2013
Yes, it's lactose. It's a common filler in medications other than the pill, too.

7 29 Oct 2013
I only recently realised this too! Also, in many pills, it's not just the sugar pills that contain lactose but the active pills too (this can be found in the information pamphlet specific to the brand, there is a listing of ingredients for both the active and inactive pills). I'm currently on the hunt for an alternative and would likewise be very grateful if anyone had the answer! I work at a pharmacy and asked the pharmacist if he knew of any brands that did not contain lactose and he said as far as he knew, they all do. I'm thinking of getting the implant thingy so maybe you could discuss this with your doctor as I think it's a similar hormone-based treatment? Alternatively, if you visit your local pharmacy (or a bigger chain like Chemist Warehouse or My Chemist) they will be happy to print out an information sheet regarding the implant for you- we have a huge database of script information that pharmacists are generally happy to hand out! You could also talk to the pharmacist about other alternative therapies if you're apprehensive about speaking to your doctor! So long as they aren't busy, pharmacists are generally pretty happy to have a chat about medication options and they typically know just as much about specific drugs as GP's!
Hope this is helpful! In the meantime, get onto Spatone liquid iron, a vitamin A supplement,  vitex and flax seed capsules (Melrose use vege caps)!

BFV BFV SA Posts: 138
8 29 Oct 2013
Make sure you read some reviews of the implant first and weigh up the risks/benefits. It's good for some people, but I personally know multiple people who've had severe side effects, including symptoms similar to what you're currently experiencing, as well as full-blown morning sickness.

sophxx sophxx NSW Posts: 169
9 30 Oct 2013
Overall, if nothing but the pill works, I would have to say go with your health. You're no advertisement for veganism if you're sick all the time. Best of luck xxx

Jordana Jordana VIC Posts: 37
10 31 Oct 2013
I looked into getting the implant but unfortunately that is just for contraception and doesn't offer any form of control over my period, which is the main issue.
My GP also investigated other brands of the Pill but they all contain lactose.

I've gotten the Iron Boost tablets by Star Formulations now and am seeing how that goes - I do not feel as tired so hopefully this will help me deal with it. I'll also look into all those other vitamins and supplements you suggest too!

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